Despite 2020 being “the year of the cancellation,” the holidays will, in fact, go on as scheduled. Sure the specifics may look a little different, but the true spirit of the season will be on full display as people adapt to make sure that COVID doesn’t cancel their holiday festivities.
With that in mind, here’s a look at how three holiday staples will evolve in 2020.
The holidays are all about making special memories, but it can be hard to make things feel special right now. This year, we’ll see people embrace DIY, personalization and loads of creative adaptation to make this particular holiday season as memorable as possible. Unlike in the spring, people and organizations are more ready to adapt—and they have the skills and tools to do so. Virtual events will be better planned and executed, parents will continue leveraging their well-honed ability to bring excitement to kids without leaving home, and unique, socially distanced (and often outdoor) events will show us just how creative, innovative and determined we all can be.
Specifically, expect things like more drive-through holiday experiences and creative warriors going all-out to turn their front lawns into truly spectacular spectacles. From a commercial perspective, we will see kits and curated boxes continue to boom. From cookie-decorating kits, to craft boxes, to curated bins based on ever-increasingly specific attributes, people love the entertainment, memories and sense of fulfillment that comes from DIY activities—especially when they get a little help curating the specific ideas and supplies.
Not surprisingly, gatherings with family and friends will look a bit different for most. Some are going all-in on Zoom events, completely abandoning efforts to get together in-person. This is especially true for widely dispersed families, where travel and lodging can be a challenge. For those that are choosing to travel, many are extending the length of their stays thanks to the flexibility of working remotely. (This will allow families to quarantine together for an extended period of time.) Others are focusing on surprise front-porch goodie drops, COVID-19 testing followed by self-quarantines, or just gathering with close friends in their quarantine crew as a way to protect their more vulnerable family members.
Besides a reprieve from endless invites and awkward interactions with relatives you hardly know, smaller get-togethers are also expected to lead to increased spending on take-out as many decide it’s not worth the time and effort to cook a big feast for a smaller group. And those that still choose to cook will likely enjoy smaller grocery tabs—think smaller turkey breasts instead of giant turkeys and fewer pies, potatoes and other accompaniments.
Holiday shopping has started earlier than ever (including Amazon Prime Day in October) as retailers roll out new incentives and people have more time and a desire to escape. With an anticipated increase in e-commerce, delivery services and supply chains may struggle to keep up—so getting an extra-early start on shopping makes perfect sense.
It’s important to note, however, that despite the early start and growth in online shopping, overall spending is expected to be down this year due to job losses and the economic downturn.
Finally, a new category of in-demand gifts has emerged: COVID-related presents. From toilet-paper-themed white elephant gifts, to commemorative ornaments, to new masks, many are searching for light-hearted ways to commemorate this challenging time.
So, whether you’re a brand looking to connect with its customers this holiday season or just a human trying to make it through another week, remember that creativity and adaptation will be bright spots to lean on during this holiday season—and into the new year.
Catherine Salzman is Director Social Science and Analytics at Seed Strategy where she uses her 10+ years of experience across strategic, media and research disciplines to illuminate vibrant stories that compel action and inspire clarity.
Edited by Adam Siegel. In addition to being the Editor of The Accelerator, Adam is VP, Creative at Seed Strategy where he draws upon his diverse experience in advertising, research and innovation to craft breakthrough creative and winning concept copy.